Fruity is not often a word we get to use when describing memorable travel destinations around the world, but then again, today’s food themed feature isn’t your average attraction. Perhaps even more surprising, is the fact that our subject lies in a tiny Scottish village on the banks of the River Forth – a geographic location one wouldn’t usually associate with, of all things, pineapples.
As eccentric residences go, The Dunmore Pineapple is certainly up there with the greatest, having once been awarded the title ‘The Most Bizarre Building in Scotland’. A lasting legacy of John Murray, the 4th Earl of Dunmore, this exotic addition grew out of an 18th Century obsession with the prickly product when, due to the fruit’s rarity, its mere depiction became a status symbol, representing wealth and power. So valued was the odd-looking ‘ananas’ – even decades after Christopher Columbus had first discovered it on his journeys in the Caribbean in the late 1400s – that the upper crust would host entire evenings in its honour and affluent aristocrats would pay the equivalent of £5000 for the pleasure of owning one. It’s quite a far cry from the tinned rings we adorn our Hawaiian pizzas with today.
Though most have speculated that this expertly crafted stone structure was intended purely for showy purposes, some say the mischievous Earl also meant it as a bit of a finger to the authorities. Murray had learnt from Virginian sailors that a pineapple carved into the gatepost was shorthand for hospitality and a sign of seaman returning home, and when the higher powers dragged him back from his duties as a governor in the state, he reacted with a somewhat more substantial ‘welcome’ of his very own. Either way, the 45ft high fruit made quite the impression.
Today, visitors can call in on the National Trust for Scotland property and walk amidst the beautifully manicured walled gardens while gazing up at the folly and former hothouse (which once grew – what else – pineapples within). Of course, if you’re feeling particularly plummy you can book a night’s stay in the summer house beneath the tropical titan. Now that would definitely count as one of your five a day.